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Essay/Term paper: Freud and marx

Essay, term paper, research paper:  World History

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Freud and Marx

Hey! I got an A- on this paper, so I guess it's pretty good! I put my own
personal spin to it in that not only did I compare Freud and Marx's viewpoints,
I stated that perhaps what they saw in society was just a reflection of their
own biases and personal inner feelings.

Freud and Marx it can be argued were both, as individuals, dissatisfied
with their societies. Marx more plainly than Freud, but Freud can also be seen
as discontent in certain aspects such as his cynical view of human nature. Each
were great thinkers and philosophers, but both seemed unhappy. Perhaps the
social ills and trouble each perceived in the world about them were only the
reflections of what each of the thinkers held within themselves. Each person
observes the same world, but each of us interprets that information in a
different way. They both saw the world as being injust or base. Each understood
the disfunctions in society as being caused by some aspect of human greed or
other similar instinct. They did however, disagree on what the vehicle for these
instincts' corrupting influences are. Freud claimed that tension caused by the
stuggle to repress anti-social instincts eventually was released and caused the
social evils he observed. Marx also saw instincts at work but not the tensions
and Id that Freud saw, Marx simply credited man's greed and the subsequent
oppression of other men as the root to all that was wrong with civilization. It
is interesting to note that both Freud and Marx saw conflict but each traced it
back to sources each was respectively educated in.

Freud was a Psychoanalyst and his understanding of the mind was very
conflict oriented. He saw man as a kind of glorified animal who had the same
desires and needs as any other animal. The only true difference between the
human-animal and other animals was that the human-animal possessed an intellect.
Freud divided man's psyche into three parts, the Id, Ego, and SuperEgo. What
differed the human-animal from any other animal was the SuperEgo, which arose
from man's intellect. The Super-Ego as Freud theorised it is the values of one's
parents internalised. He went further to then explain that unhappiness in life
is caused by the conflict between the Id and the SuperEgo. As stated, all of
Frued's philosophy was very conflict oriented so it is not difficult to
understand then how Freud applied this view macrocosmically to society as a

Freud addressed this in his essay, "Civilization and It's Discontents".
In it, Freud claimed that civilizations are developed through the channeling of
anti-social erotic and aggressive urges into constructive outlets. He went
further and explained that social ills are caused by those members of society
who are not satisfied with the substitutes supplied by the channelling of anti-
social instincts into social creative energies. Such repression causes a certain
tension which after awhile cannot be repressed and is released in socially
unacceptable behaviour. As Freud explained it, "Civilized society is perpetually
menaced with disintegration through this primary hostility of men towards one
another". Freud saw humanity as being destined to stuggle as long as humanity
exists. In his own words, "This struggle is what all life essentially consists
of and the evolution of civilizations may therefore be simply describes as the
struggle for the life of the human species".

Although like Freud, he saw conflict within society, Karl Marx had
radically different ideas and perceptions about humanity and civilization. Marx
saw the same things as Freud, but chalked it up to inter-economic class conflict
instead of conflict within one's psyche. This class conflict was caused by one
class, the Bourgeois, which he characterized as having the great majority of
wealth and power and having rule over the lower class, or Proletariots, which
worked for the Bourgeois. This view of economic class strife was just one stage
of Marx's idea that all of history was leading up to some finality and that at
such a time all of man would be able to live in a Utopia. Marx also applied this
idea in reverse and attempted to explain that the Proletariot class and
Bourgeois class have existed in varying forms for all of mankind's history. He
tried to illustrate using the example of slavery and feudalism that each time a
form of oppression by a class of another class was destroyed a new form took
it's place. Marx felt that it was a Communist's responsibility to awaken the
mostly ignorant Proletariot to this and help to abolish the concept of private
property, which he also believed was the primary means of the Bourgeois to
oppress the Proletariot workers. Marx predicted that Capitalism and it's
Bourgeois patrons would eventually become thin out due to competition and
therefore the wealth would become increasingly more centralised in fewer
people's pockets. The spread of wealth would eventually become so uneven and
lop-sided that a revolution would occur and the Bourgeois would be overthrown.
Marx believed that Capitalism was probably the last form of oppression and once
overthrown, everyone would live as a single society where all men could live in
peace without rule over one another, Utopia.

Freud and Marx although similar in some ways, held very different views
about the world around them. Aside from the obvious difference that Freud
believed the cause of social evils was within man himself and Marx saw the
problem as being an economic one as long as history itself, there are other more
specific differences. Freud saw the conflict as being internal and therefore
expressed within the society in which a man is part of, but Marx saw the
conflict in a more black-and-white sense. To Marx, it was between two groups of
people, the oppressed and the oppressors. Marx however was also generally more
optimistic, especially when it came to predictions of the future. He saw the
underdogs, the Proletariots eventually overcoming adversity and establishing
Utopia. Freud is much less exciting for all he could divine was that humanity
would continue to struggle. Freud seemed perhaps to believe that the meaning of
life was struggling. Freud saw nothing of the occasional revolutions Marx did,
it was all one long struggle to him.

Freud and Marx theorised about and observed the world around them and
interpreted it in the terms and ways they were most accomplished at and familiar
with. The question remains unanswered though, did Freud and Marx simply observe
the true reality of the world and state what they saw, or was the world about
them in actually reflecting themselves.


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